By New Mexico State Representative Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales, Taos
In Taos County, we are uniquely blessed with the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains, national forest lands and the Rio Grande Gorge. As residents, we all personally benefit from the wide variety of local recreation available, including hiking, camping, rafting, fishing and hunting.
Additionally, the incomes of many Taoseños and, overall, much our local economy are supported by recreation and the hosting of both New Mexicans and out-of-state tourists and sportsmen. For these reasons, there has been much recent concern over animal trapping as practiced on New Mexico’s wild spaces.
Commercial trapping is legally conducted on public lands in New Mexico, including the Carson National Forest. Regulations on the placement of traps are minimal — devices may be set only 25 yards from a public road or trail and only a quarter-mile from a dwelling without the landowner’s permission.
This destructive and poorly regulated practice is overdue for serious critical review that has unfortunately been lacking at the state level. The state Game and Fish Department and Game Commission, in their most recent review of the Furbearer Rule, which dictates trapping policy, refused to acknowledge the widespread public opposition to legal trapping and instead voted unanimously to expand trapping opportunities across New Mexico, including the opening of the Wild Rivers Recreation Area to coyote trapping.
This is despite the fact that around 2,000 trapping licenses are sold every year, many to out-of-state trappers. While relatively few New Mexicans engage in trapping, the practice has negative effects for many others who utilize our landscapes.